It is dark in the workshop but I am unwilling to light the gaslamps because they will wake Michael. He is sleeping in a long, narrow cage underneath a side-bench, and though he will be in shadow still when I light the lamps the hissing will wake him. His senses are all much more refined than those of other people, and what he can hear and at what distance I am still determining. He is too clever to just tell me, and I must devise ever more sophisticated experiments to deduce what he is keeping from me.
Michael is my favourite too, another reason why I would not wake him yet. He did not get to sleep until after the sun had come up this morning because I had been running the aether-condenser all night and I did not know that it generated a high-pitched tone that he could hear. I have applied myself diligently with an oscilloscope for most of the day so that I may determine the frequency of this tone when Michael wakes and I switch the aether-condenser on again. It will give me another measure of Michael's sensitivity to sound.
I am sitting in near-darkness contemplating a way to generate a silent beam of pure light for occasions such as this when Michael wakes at last. I cannot see him, but I hear him moving as he turns over a couple of times in his cage. He cannot stand up while in the cage, it is a similar shape to a coffin, but wider. Then there is a sharp buzz on the very edge of my hearing and I know that Michael has started to vibrate. Then a patch of darkness in the workshop moves and becomes man-shaped and I know that he has stood up, through the bars of the cage and the worktop, and anything I might have carelessly left there, and is moving away from them. He pauses for a moment, and I know that he can see me far better than I can see him, and that he will smell the labours of the day on me too. Then he turns back to the wall, and emits that sharp buzz again. Some thirty seconds later he has lit the first of the gaslamps and is proceeding around the workshop to light the rest.
The gaslamps cast a warm golden light about the workshop which reflects back softly from the beaten-copper vessels on the long workbench at the back, and dances happily amongst the glassware on the shelves above all of the workbenches. I am sat in a high-backed armchair with wings such that I can sit back in the shadows and be indistinguishable even in good daylight. It was once upholstered with good red velvet and gold beading, but it has seen better days, particularly the days before I discovered that even when he vibrates Michael disturbs liquids. Michael has healed, but the chair was equally doused in a mixture of corrosive fluids and has failed to heal even slightly.
'You have been working all day, and will continue into the night?' says Michael, a frown creasing his high forehead. Soft black hair falls over his face as he frowns, and he pushes it casually back with his left hand. His eyes, yellow as a cat's, glitter in the gaslight.
'Work always continues,' I say, 'whether I participate or not.'
'Will you be needing my blood tonight then?'
'No.' This is the first night in three weeks I have not needed blood samples from Michael, but this is the first time that I have had a notable success during the day. 'I have three vials of elixir that when poured on something solid will make it vibrate as you do,' I say. 'I think that tonight we shall attempt to improve our fortunes instead.'
Michael smiles, sensual red lips parting enough to reveal that his teeth are naturally sharply pointed, almost triangular, and his tongue pokes out, long enough for me to notice that it is forked at the end. I have known this ever since I caged him, but it surprises me everytime. I suppress my shudder though, as I am aware that it would only excite him.
'Can you show me?' he asks, his smile turning into an impish grin.
I nod, I had been expecting him to ask, and in truth, I would prefer to test the elixir before we reach the bank. I turn to the long workbench, and in passing turn on the aether-condenser. If tonight is a success I shall be needing much more aether. It burps rudely, then settles down emitting a low, rumbling chugging. Michael winces as it does so, and reminds me about the oscilloscope. I flick another switch to turn it on, and leave it to settle while I pick up the half-bottle of elixir set next to three full ones. I uncork it, and pour the contents out onto a twisted lump of iron, salvaged from an experiment some months ago that set the workshop on fire and necessitated a complete rebuilding. The iron, blackened and warped, nonetheless seems to glitter where the elixir has pooled. I slip a stiff leather glove on, and rub the elixir over the iron completely. Everywhere the elixir touches starts to glitter, clearly an effect of the elixir itself as the iron is as dull and unreflective as ever.
Michael reaches out a hand, and it passes straight through the iron. His heavy eyebrows rise in startlement.
'You see,' I said, 'I think that this elixir confers the properties that you can induce in yourself at will. It causes the iron to vibrate as fast as you until it evaporates.'
Michael shrugs, and seems to blur. That irritating sharp buzz pulses through my head again, but now Michael can pick the iron up and heft it in his hand. 'And if I threw this at someone now?' he says.
I shrug. 'If the elixir were to evaporate in mid-flight I dare say that it would hurt, or kill, when it struck. If the elixir did not, then it should pass straight through them, and give them naught more than a nasty shock.'
Michael hefts it thoughtfully once more, then turns towards the doorway of the workshop and throws it. As soon as the iron leaves his hand it seems to contract becoming impossibly thin and then disappearing altogether. It certainly does not fly across the workshop as I had expected. Michael smiles, and for the first time since I have caged him, I find his smile oddly sinister.
'It seems to work perfectly,' he says, and I find myself nodding in agreement with him. His voice is rich, mellow, and has undertones that seem to ring in harmony with my soul. I know he has this ability too, and I have earplugs set aside to protect me from its effects, but I am not wearing them today, foolishly. I have grown trusting and believe that Michael and I are working towards the same goals.
'Let us go then, and liberate gold from the vaults of the bank,' he says, and I turn to the bench to collect the vials of elixir. I have no choice, and for all that this was ever my plan, I am wondering if perhaps Michael has a plan after my plan that he has not yet divulged to me. I must leave the workshop in the mundane fashion, by the door, but Michael just walks through the wall. For in this world only Michael vibrates that much.